Memorial of Saint Agatha, virgin and martyr
(Hebrews 13:1-8; Mark 6:14-19)
Today, the feast of St. Agatha, the Church remembers more a way of life than a person. Historical records about St. Agatha vary. The oldest say that she lived in Catania, Sicily. Newer ones put her in Palermo. She may have been martyred during the Decian persecution around the year 250, but this too is uncertain. It is said of her, as of other saints like Agnes, that she was sent to a brothel to rob her of virginity, but she resisted successfully. The way of life that she with other virgin-martyrs represents is devotion to the Lord. When most teens would be flirting with boys and naming future children, Agatha reflected on Christ’s love for her.
Today’s first reading includes this message of the Lord’s love. The Letter to the Hebrews makes clear that Jesus will help Christians gain the heavenly crown he won for them. He is the “helper” who enables the saint to resist evil. Its last line is especially memorable. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” What he did in the past for saints like Agatha, he will do for people today.
It may be as hard as ever for teens to think of Christ’s love for them. They are bombarded by counter-evangelical images and ideas. Nevertheless, they deserve to know the love of Christ. We help them by sensitively listening to their hopes and fears, encouraging them to value a relationship with the Lord, and by living modest and holy lives.